HomeDa Birds NewsSirianni's Troubles: Eagles' Limp to Finish Line Could Spell Trouble

Sirianni’s Troubles: Eagles’ Limp to Finish Line Could Spell Trouble

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PHILADELPHIA – This was no way to ring in the new year for the Philadelphia Eagles.

It was like drinking flat champagne and all the balloons in the room springing a leak before the stroke of midnight. This was ugly. Had they been standing in Times Square on Sunday night the ball would have fallen on their heads.

You can’t lose to the Arizona Cardinals. The Eagles did, though, 35-31, on a New Year’s Eve Sunday afternoon.

Arizona had won three games all year. Three. One…two…three. That’s not how you’re supposed to count on the way to the new year.

Last year’s Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon outcoached Nick Sirianni, and after what has happened to this team, you have to wonder about the job security of the Eagles’ head coach.

The Eagles are in the playoffs, yes, and the head coach will have made the postseason in all three of his seasons, but the way this one is ending with just two wins since Thanksgiving, 1-4 in December…heck, the Eagles fired Doug Pederson just three years after delivering the franchise its first Super Bowl.

Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni
Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni after losing a Week 17 game to a three-win Arizona Cardinals team. USA Today

It would be a hold move, and probably the wrong one to let Sirianni go.

More likely, the Eagles will clean house under Sirianni. He is 34-16 overall with a 2-2 postseason record and a trip to the Super Bowl on his resume.

General manager Howie Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie will have a big hand in making those hires. Whatever cache Sirianni had is probably gone.

“Stick together,” said Sirianni when asked what his message was to his players. “Everyone’s got to stick together. I think there’s going to be a lot of people trying to point the finger at different things and everybody’s got to stick together.”

If the coach thought that Matt Patricia could fix this defense, he was badly mistaken.

It’s never pretty when you can’t stop the run, and the Eagles simply could not. They allowed 221 yards on the ground. It’s one thing to give up 128 yards to James Conner. It’s another to allow 61 yards and an 8.7 yard per carry average to Michael Carter who had all of 109 yards rushing all year long.

“We dropped the ball on this one,” said Haason Reddick. “There’s no other way to put it. Hey, we still got playoffs coming up. We got one more. We gotta get that one.”

It’s never pretty when your defense doesn’t force a punt, something the Eagles couldn’t do.

It’s never pretty when the Eagles allow 449 total yards of offense or fail to get off the field on third and fourth downs. The touchdown that tied the game at 28-28 came on a fourth-and-four with 5:26 to play in the game and Arizona was two-for-two on that down and 5-for-10 on third down.

“We have to get through this week, all the stuff that’s about to be said about us, but it’s all good,” said Brandon Graham. “When we’re in the postseason, it’s what we do when everything is on the line.”

The loss probably means the Eagles won’t win the NFC East, but does it matter the way this team has limped to the finish line? They are staring down the barrel of a one-and-done postseason.

The division title will probably go to the Dallas Cowboys unless Philly finds a way to beat the New York Giants, the only team it has beaten since Nov. 26 when they took out the Buffalo Bills in overtime, and the Cowboys lose to the Washington Commanders on the road.

If that scenario doesn’t happen, the Eagles would be the fifth seed and visit whichever teams win the NFC South, either Tampa Bay or New Orleans.

“I still believe in the guys in that locker room, the players,” said Sirianni. “I still believe in the coaches. I think we’ve got the guys in this place to get turned in the right direction.”

The Eagles held a 21-6 lead at halftime and the Lincoln Financial Field crowd was in a full new-year celebratory mood, perhaps forgetting this team has been a rollercoaster ride all season, even when they were 10-1.

What they didn’t hold much was the ball, losing time of possession by a lot. Arizona had the ball for nearly 40 minutes; the Eagles 20:21.

Related: ‘Worry? Concern? No!’ Sirianni Explains Eagles Embarrassing Collapse vs. Cardinals, Loss of Control of NFC East

Sydney Brown provided the lone highlight for a defense that allowed 29 second-half points – including the winning touchdown with 32 seconds to play – and couldn’t make a stop even once. The rookie safety returned an interception 99 yards to give the Eagles a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.

It didn’t hold up.

“It’s all about regrouping and understanding that we gotta get better,” said Brown. “If we play the football we know we can play, we’re going to beat the (bleep) out of every single team.

“There’s no flight in any of us. One bad game can’t be the single story of what our defense has done. …Like, (bleep), we just lost to the worst team in the NFL. What can you do? You just gotta move on.”

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